Hendrick Motorsports Crew Chief Fights Off Jimmie Johnson Agony to Bring Home the Ultimate Honor

Published 09/05/2023, 5:31 PM EDT

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Hendrick Motorsports has been a part of NASCAR for nearly 40 years now. In that time, they have won a whopping 14 NASCAR Cup Series championship titles which include Jimmie Johnson’s record-equaling seven Cup Series wins. They’ve always had legendary drivers in their ranks, the likes of Jeff Gordon and Terry Labonte to name a couple apart from Johnson. Their latest championship winner is Kyle Larson who last won it in 2021.

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Hendrick Motorsports has held its position as a perennial title challenger for years and that does not seem to be going away anytime soon. HMS has achieved several milestones in its nearly four-decade-long history in NASCAR, and they recently just reached another incredible milestone and this is one for the history books.

Long-Time Hendrick Motorsports Crew Chief Makes History


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This season has not been the best for Rick Hendrick’s team. Only two out of their four drivers have made it through to the playoffs in 2023. One of those who could not qualify is their golden boy and former Cup Series champion Chase Elliott. The 27-year-old missed six races earlier in the season due to an injury and has not been able to hit the levels necessary.

However, even with two drivers, a team like HMS always has a chance of winning the Cup Series title. And they got off to a fantastic start in Darlington last Sunday. 2021 Cup Series champion Kyle Larson beat out challenges from Ty Gibbs and Chris Buescher to win the first playoff race of the season.


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Despite qualifying poorly and starting on the grid in 18th place, the 31-year-old fought his way through the pack and ended up right at the front at the end of the event. It was a special victory for Larson who had won at the Darlington track for the first time in his career.

However, it was an even special win for Hendrick Motorsports. Kyle Larson’s win at Darlington was the 500th win for Hendrick Motorsports engine department in NASCAR. Over the course of their time in the sport, they have won 356 Cup, 122 Xfinity, and 22 Truck Series races.

Larson’s crew chief Cliff Daniels was proud of what they had achieved for the team as he called the achievement the “crown jewel” of HMS. Daniels also reflected on the hard times he had faced in the past, even someone like Jimmie Johnson in the car. It certainly goes to show just how far he has come during his time with the team.

“Tonight was huge for both of us. I’ve been with Jimmie and Chad here before where we’ve had great cars and been close to getting it done. I wasn’t on the 2012 winning Jimmie and Chad team. I came on shortly after that. We’ve had a lot of heartbreak here in my times past. Had some heartbreak here when I was Jimmie’s crew chief,” Daniels said.

Daniels and Larson have known each other since the latter was driving the #42 car. Times were tough back then and Daniels had experienced it all. Now, standing with Larson as his crew chief and guiding him to HMS’ 500th victory, he feels nothing but pride.

“It’s a very special race for the sport. Obviously, it’s a crown jewel. It’s a milestone race if you can get it done,” Daniels added.

The HMS engine department might have achieved its 500th win in NASCAR, but as a racing team, they are on the brink of another stunning milestone.

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Another Historic Day on the HMS Horizon

Kyle Larson’s win at Darlington last Sunday was Hendrick Motorsports’ 299th race win in the NASCAR Cup Series. One more victory and they will have completed an incredible 300 wins in the Cup.

After the race at Darlington, Larson was asked if he would like to get that 300th win for the team, to which the 31-year-old said that it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter who got that 300th win. That number is all about the team and bigger than any individual.


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“No. 300 as a whole means more than me winning it or any individual person.

“I hope one of us four can do it next week, and I guess that means Rick will be at the track every week now until we win. We’ll look forward to having him there,” said the 2021 Cup Series champion.


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It seems inevitable that Hendrick Motorsports will script some more history this season with the 300th win. But whose name will be in the record books for getting that achievement? Only time will tell.

WATCH THIS STORY: Rick Hendrick’s Team Slip-Up Exposed by NASCAR World After Chase Elliott’s Bitter Misery.



Written by:

Nilavro Ghosh


One take at a time

Nilavro Ghosh is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. He started his journey as a motorsports fan with Moto GP and Formula One, before gravitating towards NASCAR a few years back. The high-octane nature of stock car racing paired with the racecraft on display drew him into the sport.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal




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